Friday, September 14, 2012

Protect Your Hand—Tournament Edition

I’ve done two previous posts about the importance of protecting your hand, see here and here.  But those discussed cash game incidents.  Last week, while playing in the Orleans Friday 7PM tournament, I witnessed—and actually benefited—from another odd scenario involving the basic principle of protecting one’s hand.  I’ll have a longer post to follow with all the details from this tournament, but for now, since this one incident from it fits in so well with the “protect the hand” theme, I thought I would isolate it with its own blog post.

I was in seat 2 and very short stacked.  Looking for a place to roll the dice and shove just to get a double up—or move on to something more productive than it appeared that this tournament was apparently going to be.  I knew I need to make a move before the big blind came back to me, because if I hadn’t added chips by then, I would have to go all-in on the big blind no matter how bad the hand was.  I had just folded my big blind when my garbage hand looked even worse when someone shoved in front of me, but now on the small blind, I saw Ace/Jack offsuit and knew this was definitely a good enough hand to move all-in no matter what the action in front of me was.
As the dealer finished dealing the two down cards, seats 4 and 5 couldn’t wait to fold their hands, they mucked them before the dealer even finished dealing all the cards.  One of the two of them managed to miss the dealer and made a direct hit on the cards of Seat 1, who of course was on the button.  He hadn’t looked at his cards, hadn’t touched them, and in fact, I don’t think he had even received his second card from the dealer when some of the discards had touched the first card he was dealt.
The dealer went to sweep in his cards when he protested that he hadn’t even looked at his cards—or touched them—when the mucked cards touched them.  There were two cards touching his hand, and two cards behind them touching the cards that were touching his cards, and he pointed to the two cards touching his own hand and said he was sure that those were seat 4’s discards.  He asked the dealer to have seat 4 look at those cards and confirm that they were his, and thus, he could take the cards that were (presumably) his and play his hand.
The dealer had to call the floor, of course.  He held up the action and people who appeared to be ready to muck their cards held on to them.  The floor came over and listened to the dealer, then heard Seat 1 make his case.  It wasn’t fair to foul his hand, he never even had a chance to look at them before the player in either seat 4 or 5 (or both) made the error that caused the issue.  He had a strong case, it certainly wasn’t his fault, not at all.  But the floor ruled that there was just no way to allow him to continue, that having the other player look at the two cards seat 1 thought might be his was just unacceptable to the integrity of the game.  Despite the protest, seat 1’s hand was mucked without him ever knowing what he was dealt.
In my opinion, this was the right ruling, however unfortunate it was.  My only issue was, I thought the floor should have warned both seat 4 and seat 5 to be more careful when they muck.  Now they were both experienced players who didn’t really need to be warned about that, it was obviously just a rather bizarre one time screw up, but still, I think it would have looked better if he had warned them, without penalty.
Seat 1 was rather annoyed.  He was only out a small ante (it was like $75 or $100 at that point), but he had the button and of course he might have been able to use that to his advantage, right?  Even if he had garbage, he might have been able to make a move owing to his position, and since he never looked, he might have even had a big hand that he never saw.
Now the dealer reopened the action, and people kept mucking the cards.  Including the guy to my left, in Seat 3, also in this case, the big blind.  When the floor made his ruling, and the dealer took in all the cards that were in front of Seat 1 (all six of them), the big blind just took his two cards and flung them—and I do mean flung them—into the center of the table, directly into the other cards that had been mucked.  “It’s a misdeal, right?  Dead hand,” is what he said as he flung them.
I must compliment his aim, I have never seen a better pitch of discard cards from a player in my life. Of course, as they hit the other cards, the dealer informed him that no, it was definitely not a dead hand.  Only seat 1’s cards were lost.  The hand itself was still good.
Seat 3 was not having a good tournament, and more will be said about him in my future post about the rest of this tournament.  But he just sort of resigned himself to losing his hand—and his ante, and his big blind—because of his hasty action.  I think he felt it was kind of typical of how his luck was running that night.  He said something like, “Oh shit.  Oh well, it doesn’t matter.”  He didn’t say it like he meant it.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think it is most likely that he never looked at his cards before prematurely folding.
As it turned out, everyone—everyone—folded until it was my turn.  Since the big blind had already folded, there was nothing to do but give me all the chips (the antes and the big blind).  I had been given a most unusual “walk.”  Usually a walk means everyone—even the small blind—folds and the big blind takes the pot without doing anything.  This time, the small blind—i.e., your humble correspondent—was given a walk as the small blind!
Of course, we’ll never know how it could have otherwise turned out.  Most likely scenario, if the big blind hadn’t thrown his cards away, was that he would have folded to my shove.  But maybe he would have had enough of a hand to call me.  He had me well covered, so with everyone else gone and my move looking both like a move from the small blind and a move from someone short stacked, he could have called fairly light.  So perhaps I missed out on a double up there.  Or…..perhaps I missed out on a bust out.
Similarly, how might things have been different if the button had been allowed to play his hand?  Possibly no difference, possibly a big difference.
But I got a bunch of chips without risking any at all, and that’s never a bad thing.
So once again, we see the importance of protecting your hand.  And that especially means not throwing your cards away before you are sure the hand is dead.

To read the rest of the story of this remarkable tournament, see here.


  1. A couple months ago I made a similar bozo move.... I thought I was the only one left in the hand and that everybody had folded to my bet. Uh-uh - one of the guys on the other side of the table had called. So, when I pushed my cards into the muck pile and started to take the chips, somebody pointed out that the other guy was still in.

    My only option - push him the chips.

    Stupid is as stupid does, and if stupid does, stupid pays.

    1. Thanks, Tim. Yeah, that does sound like a bad thing to do :). Hope it wasn't a huge pot!

  2. And here I thought I was the only person to get a walk in the small blind. I played in a tournament in Tunica a couple years ago, we were a few levels in, enough for the blinds to be worth something but still a while until the next break, and the player to my left decided she just had to go smoke a cigarette. I don't recall how long she was gone, only that she was not present for her big blind. Amazingly, I watched the whole table fold, all the way to me, in the small blind. Normally, I'd be ecstatic to get that walk, but when I looked at my cards, I saw AA! Not s single person even attempted to limp against the absent BB, much less try to steal, and me with one of the few premium hands I saw that tournament.

    1. Thanks,. BuzzedSaw. That was damn unlucky. I guess you have to keep telling yourself your aces would have been cracked if anyone had stuck around!

      Had a similar experience once in a tournament when I was running low on chips--tho not as desperate as I was in this post. In the big blind I was looking at a couple of queens. I thought here was my chance to pick up some chips (even tho I wasn't ready to just shove). Folded around to the small blind who showed me his total garbage hand before he folded. Damn. I showed everyone my Queens and got a little sympathy--but no chips.

  3. I am trying to remember -- doesn't your card protector have two huge boobies on it?

    1. No, Lightbulb, you know damn well there are no boobies on my card protector. It's round, light blue and meant to look like a stack of chips. In addition to a pattern of all four card suits, it has a replica of the "Welcome to the Las Vegas", no boobies.

      This notion that I am inordinately into breasts is patently ridiculous. I mean, on my last night in Vegas just this past Thursday night, it just so happened that a rather stunning looking Italian girl sat down at the same table with Prudence and me. She had a spectacular figure, wearing a jump suit with a daringly provocative plunging neckline that revealed a black bra and very large breasts. It appeared to me that her breasts were not of Mother Nature's doing, but were likely purchased after-market. But it did take me several hundred glances over in her direction to come to this conclusion.

      Anyway, the point is that although this woman was clearly demonstrating "the Jennifer Tilly effect" about as well as I've ever seen it displayed, I have no intention of mentioning her tits--or her--on this blog.